Stargazers at the US's University of Rochester have announced that Mizar in the asterism of the Plough (the Big Dipper to our US cousins) is actually a six-star system. Mizar was scientifically confirmed as the first known binary star system back in 1617, by Benedetto Castelli and Galileo, who demonstrated that Mizar was linked …
Can you please
use the term 'nude-eye' instead of naked-eye. It is so much more tasteful...
WOW - that's complicated
Blimey! Try drawing that with your spirograph!
Castelli and Galileo didn't need to use a telescope to confirm that Mizar and Alcor are separate - that's obvious to anyone with normal eyesight. They in fact made the next discovery, that Mizar itself is a binary.
"The City and the Stars"
Arthur Clark, depicted a six star system. WoW, that'll drive a supercomputer crazy figuring out orbits/periodicity.
Not the only one
Isaac Asimov also depicted a six-star system, in his short story "Nightfall". Which incidentally was one of the best sci-fi pieces I've ever read.
As to any computer being able to figure out the orbits of six stars - google "three body problem". We can't figure out the orbits of 3 stars, let alone 6!
Obligatory Red Dwarf reference
But are there planets which you can play Planetary Pool with?
Time to read that Asimov short story again...
How can a 6 star system be stable? Surely it wouldn't be stable for a long (in the astronomical scale of things) time? (This is a genuine question, if anyone would care to enlighten me it would be much appreciated)
Astronomical scale.. and you still ask the question?
No of course it wont be.. they'll be (to use an NHSism) circling the plug hole..
Point is that on a Human Scale of things they probably wont have made one orbit since they were named.
Stable is relative to your timescale. and on an astronomical scale pretty much Nothing is Stable.
> How can a 6 star system be stable?
Well, by the sound of things its not six stars all in a bunch. You've got three pairs of stars, each revolving round a common centre of gravity. Then two of the pairs are revolving round a common centre of gravity, and that cog is revolving round a common cog with the other pair. How stable it is will depend on how far apart each individual pair is... Presumably they are all pretty well spaced...
I for one welcome our new cool (but dim) M-class dwarf overlords. A real pushover.
Space is fricking awesome...
...It makes me so sad that we'll understand such a tiny fraction of it in my lifetime...
Those are boring names. I vote to change the stars' names to Onos, Dovim, Trey, Patru, Tano and Sitha, in honour of Isaac Asimov and his truly excellent novel Nightfall :D
That's how science works...
The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not Eureka! (I found it!) but rather, "hmm.... that's funny...." - Isaac Asimov
My tattered copy of "Stars and Planets" by Sir Patrick Moore already states that Mizar/Alcor is a six sun system.
Mind you, the Rochester Uni team must be pretty pleased with being able to take individual photos of them.
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